It’s 5.00 am. Your eyes feel like they’re about to fall straight out of their sockets. You’ve created perfection in the form of a tower of empty red bull cans, which you’ve lived off for the last few days, and you’ve read more random articles online than you ever knew existed.
What has turned your life into such turmoil? The dreaded dissertation deadlines and end of year exams loom as you try get creative with reasons to hit that deferral button. Although some students must be rewarded for their creativity when it comes to excuses, the majority of lecturers are going to see through the classics; “Genuinely my house was robbed last night and they stole just my USB with my essay on it”, or mysterious sicknesses that arise in mass numbers around exam time, but are thankfully curable prior to the post exam celebrations.
I recently came across one student bizarrely contemplating telling a lecturer “My calculator is solar powered and it’s cloudy today.” I never got around to asking him how this went down but I can only presume no lecturer bought this.
So how exactly can one avoid this ‘freak out’ and need for excuses coming up to this stressful time?
Firstly when it comes to exams or projects, try making a plan. This semester you have not only study week but also Easter break to get some study and preparation in. Of course you’re going to have to leave some time for your post-lent pig out on chocolate depending on what your last 40 days have been like, but unless you’re aspiring for a degree in this, two weeks is more than enough time to get some enjoyment, rest and study in, so make a plan now for the next fortnight before things get hectic.
Secondly, find a place to study. Now we’ve all been guilty of going to the library for a full day and getting nothing productive done, unless you count the few hours you spent creeping and eyeing up who you’re going to shift once these exams are done with. Maybe for the couple of weeks you have to study, try to find a certain spot that suits you, near where your department books are kept maybe; also if possible try sit away from your friends for these couple of weeks. Although it might eliminate some craic and the inevitable banter as your brains become more and more fried, you’ll be thankful in August when having actual banter and not stuck back there.
Also if things get on top of you, meet a lecturer. Don’t be afraid of them; they get paid plenty of money for what they do, and they’re here to help, not catch you out. If you feel things are building up or literally don’t know where to start for an exam a couple of days before – it happens to the best of us – pop a lecturer an email or go to their office – the majority of them will be happy to see you – and try sort things out rather than spoof your way through.
Lastly, around exam time try to look after yourself. Going ninety on caffeine, whether in liquid or tablet form is never a good idea and will cause dangerous side effects. Also, if you’re doing the dreaded 14-hour library shift, don’t spend all that time in there. As it quietens down towards the end of the day, and a seat isn’t as precious as the last turkey in a shop on Christmas Eve, pop out for a while. Go to the gym or even just a walk or get some food away from the college campus; your brain will seriously appreciate the break and your study will effectively improve.
Also avoid all-nighters at all cost; they do not work very well. Staying up all night before an exam to cram in or half-learn something is not a good idea. Try to get some sleep before an exam; if you’re well rested, fresh and alert your creative juices will flow much better in there and there’s much less chance of you bottling it.
Finally, make sure you have all the details of your exam correct. It might sound simple, but every year students mix up venues, times and dates and are forced to sit a repeat, although they could have been totally prepared. Personal timetables are available online and if you need to know where an exam hall is, get in touch with student services and they’ll give you directions.
Good luck to everyone in their exams from all at Sin. Remember don’t freak out; they’re not the end of the world and with a bit of work you should sail through to an enjoyable end-of-exams bendy.